The Beast And The Blessed
My skin was itching, and my body was tense as I waited for the vehicle to make its way through the
trees. There wasn’t much room in the off-road cage, but we didn’t need much… just enough to get the
bodies to take them back to their families.
Two had survived the patrol of six. They had been found chained up, hanging from a tree, as their
blood slowly drained into the rune in the dirt. They had several bite marks on them that seemed old, but
the injury to drain them hadn’t healed yet, so we knew someone had just been here.
It was horrific to find them this way, and after what happened with Heath and Nolan, I was going to take
no chances with our two survivors. They would be restrained with medical help until we could be sure
they hadn’t been cursed too. I didn’t want to risk losing more of my men and women than I had to, and I
especially didn’t want Natalie to have to witness it again.
But it was good news that we had found them here this way. With this and the thick magic in the air, we
now had a more narrow section of mountains to search. The enemy seemed impatient and hungry,
meaning they would make more mistakes.
Now that we had a location, we could take action instead of sitting around, waiting for them to attack.
It also meant that I could go home to my mate.
I had my men searching the forest as we waited for the car and the bodies to be picked up. I was
pleased to get back several reports of tracks the enemy had failed to hide, and the rotten scent of
vampires wafted through the air occasionally.
They were here. They were close. But they were hiding.
Until I could get even more men out here, I wouldn’t be risking more lives to hunt on their land. They
knew it better than we did, and I was positive they had traps in place.
So, we played it discrete, taking notes of everything around us and discussing it through our pack link,
but putting on the show for anyone watching that we were disappointed that we didn’t find anything.
We would go back, regroup and then go from there.
I was going to rain hell down on them.
The trip back was solemn. We ran for hours, getting home just as the sun was starting to set. The
power from the castle made me groan, and I knew nothing good was going on inside.
The only good thing would be seeing Natalie. I had shut myself off from her, something I didn’t want to
do but knew I needed to. If I felt her, I would be distracted, wondering what she was doing when I felt
her get frustrated or angry. I would be jealous when she was happy, wishing I was there to make her
But there could be no distractions allowed when in war.
I also didn’t want her to feel anything from me. That side of me was something that I never wanted her
to see or experience. She deserved better than the cold and cruel man I became on the battlefield. 1
The guards stood tall as I walked past them, but I could see the tension in how they held themselves as
if they were ready to run, flinching when there was a loud clatter from down the hall.
My jaw clenched as I walked past several maids scrubbing a singed part of the wall, trying to remove
the burn marks.
I pushed the dining room doors open to see five of the seven council members bickering, but not a
single one was sitting and eating their meal. Two of the witches had their steak knives floating in the air
by their heads, ready to launch at the other as they faced off.
My entrance was just in time to see Cora pressing her palms to the dining table with a malevolent
The voices were loud as the women yelled over each other, and my eyes widened when Cora’s voice
became louder than the rest. “How is your mother, Willa?”
The snide question was full of malice, and I knew Cora was picking a fight. She hated Rona for costing
her a leg in battle a few years prior. Bringing up her mother, knowing Rona had been the one to kill her,
was an obvious threat to out her.
“Six feet under and buried face down.” Rona laughed darkly as she glanced down at where Cora’s leg
would be if the table hadn’t been in the way. “It’s a shame your fat ass is still alive and kicking.
Speaking of, how’s your leg?”
Cora stood next to Natalie. I smiled when I saw my mate, who sat at the head of the table calmly,
taking another bite of her dinner. Clearly, this wasn’t her first meal with them, and the poised way she
carried herself was admirable.
“Don’t look so smug, child. Your time is coming! I’ll make sure of that personally!” Cora’s yell of outrage
was followed by her thrusting her palms toward Rona, the force sending Rona flying backward and
skidding across the floor.
But it was the way my mate lit up in anger, looking even more beautiful as her drink was knocked over
her dinner plate, that held my attention.
Natalie threw her napkin on the mess as she got to her feet. “You are all acting like children; I have had
“What are you going to do? Turn the car around?” Rona sniggered as she pushed herself up to her
“That is enough! Now, SIT DOWN!” All of the women sat stiffly in their chairs, and the knives clattered
to the ground. Rona was dragged back by force as Natalie’s magic wrapped around the women,
silencing them and forcing them to her will.
I growled as a chair suddenly took my feet from beneath me and pulled me across the room to the
table, locking me against the wood. Natalie’s wide eyes met my own as I held the table’s edge in
“You’re back,” She whispered as I tried to free myself from her spell with little luck. But it gave me a
moment to look her over for injury. Only I could see that her strength had not only increased in her
magic. Her arms looked slimmer and more toned, and I knew she had been working hard to train.
“Yes, my love. Now, please release me, so I can greet you properly.” I tried not to laugh as she blinked
several times before a smile stretched over her face.
“You’re back!” She exclaimed again as my chair slid back an inch, and I knew I had been released.
I jumped to my feet and met her halfway around the table, gathering her in my arms and taking in her
scent to calm my beast. I had been uneasy without her over the past two weeks. Natalie shoved her
face against me, and I felt my chest warm as she greeted me so lovingly.
Never before had I experienced a warm welcome home, nor had I realized how much I had missed her.
Having her in my arms again was a gift from the Goddess, and I never wanted to let her go.
“Are you finished eating, my love?” I asked, wanting to take her away from here, so I could greet her
the way I had imagined for the past few hours of my run.
Since I couldn’t shift without being naked, I held myself back. Rona wasn’t the only one who had been
openly curious about me since I had met them, and I wanted to give them as little to work with as
One of the witches slammed their palm down on the table, and the spell was broken. But not a single
Natalie nodded as she beamed at me, her arms not letting go of my beastly state. I forced my eyes
away from her, feeling a slight pain in my chest as I did so to greet our guests. “Ladies. It is an honor to
have you here. I hope that you all have settled in well. Please let our staff or us know if you need
I glanced down at my mate, half tempted to throw her over my shoulder and carry her away. But she
made a choice for me as she jumped up, using my shoulders to lift herself as she wrapped her perfect
fucking legs around my waist with her head in my neck.
A few of our visitors laughed knowingly as I turned and carried Natalie away, pausing when Joselin
opened the door to the private dining room and joined her peers.
“And, please try to keep the damage to a minimum. You break it, you fix it. Our staff does not deserve
to have to clean up any damage you cause.” Natalie called over my shoulder just before Rona chimed
in with disgust as she saw Joselin.
“Damn it! I thought I was finally free of you! I had hoped the vampires would have taken care of you for
Joselin pursed her lips in fake sympathy as she walked by, “Such a shame that you’re still breathing,
Rona. Maybe next time you can go with us if you weren’t such a chicken shit. All talk and no bite.”
I rolled my eyes as I let out a huff of irritation. I looked down at my mate, who was clinging to me like a
koala bear, and exited the dining room as the yelling started again.
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